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Asian art

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Man's cloth (hinggi kombu)

20th century


Unknown Artist


On the island of Sumba textiles are essential items for bride wealth (a reciprocal exchange of goods made between the bride’s and groom’s families), funerary rites and expressing social status. According to traditional Sumbanese belief (‘marapu’), which orders the entire cosmos in terms of complimentary dualisms, textiles are feminine items associated with the fertile, cool and watery underworld. During elaborate marriage negotiations, hand-woven ikat textiles are given by a bride’s family to the groom’s in exchange for male goods such as gold ‘mamuli’ ornaments and livestock. ‘Hinggi kombu’ are worn wrapped around the body or folded over the shoulder and are distinguished by bold designs of human and anthropomorphic figures, imagery of the male items exchanged for female goods, and motifs inspired by the natural and supernatural world. The design of this textile was achieved using the ikat technique in which the desired pattern is tied and dyed into the cotton threads before weaving. It features symbols denoting high status and the mythical power of founding ancestors. These include large-antlered deer interspersed with stylised tree motifs, chickens clasping sacred ‘mamuli’ ornaments, and crayfish symbolising the underworld and the aristocracy. The central band shows a floral lattice or ‘patolu ratu’ design, a common feature of Sumbanese ikat textiles inspired by Indian trade textiles.


Other Title

Hinggi (man's shawl or mantle)

Place where the work was made

East Sumba Indonesia


20th century

Materials used

cotton, dyes; warp ikat and supplementary weft weave


252.0 x 126.0 cm


Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010


Not on display

Accession number


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

  • Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–06 Jan 2019


Christopher Wilson, pre 1989-1996, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, purchased in Indonesia.

Mariann Ford, 1996-Dec 2010, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, inherited from the estate of Christopher Wilson. Gift to the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the Christopher Worrall Wilson Bequest 2010.

Referenced in 1 publication


Niki van den Heuvel, Ancestral art of the Indonesian archipelago, Sydney, 2017, 41 (colour illus.).